by Ray Kuhn
As interleague play continues there are a lot of options as far as two-start pitchers go. But in a lot of cases this week, quantity does not necessarily mean quality. However there are still some studs, either in track record or performance so far this season, taking the hill twice this week. There are also some options that that could bring positive results for you in the coming week, but at times discretion must be used when combing thru some of the options. With that said, let’s jump right into some of this week’s two-start pitchers.
Studs that never should be benched:
- Matt Cain – @ Los Angeles Angels and @ Oakland.
- RA Dickey – vs. Baltimore and vs. New York Yankees.
- Lance Lynn – @ Detroit and @ Kansas City.
- Cole Hamels – vs. Colorado and vs. Tampa Bay.
- David Price – @ Washington and @ Philadelphia.
- CC Sabathia – vs. Atlanta and @ New York Mets.
Five Pitchers that should be starting in every format:
Jake Peavy – vs. Chicago Cubs and vs. Milwaukee. I was struggling with including Peavy in the stud category but ultimately I feel that although his performance has dictated it, it has only been two months. Prior to his injury problems Peavy was a stud no questions asked. So far this season he has proved to not only be healthy, but Peavy is pitching like the All-Star he was a few years ago. With an ERA of 2.91 and a WHIP of 0.97 he is also dominating hitters with 78 strikeouts over 89.2 innings. The White Sox ace is pitching deep into games and can be counted on for two solid performances this week.
Matt Garza – @ Chicago White Sox and @ Arizona. One of the Cubs’ few marketable assets is only a notch down from his usual durable innings eating strikeout pitcher with just under a strikeout an inning. Do not let his 2-5 record fool you as it is not indicative of his performance. His ERA of 4.03 is a little higher than normal, but the flip side of that is Garza’s WHIP of 1.12 is lower than his normal baseline. For this reason I am not concerned about the ERA and since he is doing a better job of limiting base runners, I could see his ERA begining to come down slightly. His ERA is not exactly where it should be cause over his last few starts Garza has managed to pitch 6 innings, but not more than that. It has been a while since he got a win, but he is clearly capable of ripping off 2 dominant performances.
Clay Buchholz – vs. Miami and vs. Atlanta. Buchholz is another pitcher who entered this season recovering from an injury. He did not pitch following his back injury last season and entered 2012 season still in the recovery phase. The Red Sox hurler clearly has talent and should be entering his prime. Based on his last 4 starts, it appears that the entrance is beginning. Buchholz is averaging just less than 8 innings a start over that span giving up no more than 2 runs. He is also striking batters out and reducing his walks. Some might take this classification as premature, but that talent and the signs are there. I would not want to wait another week and let 2 more starts like his last 4 pass you by.
Mat Latos – @ Cleveland and vs. Minnesota. Latos might be one of the most fickle starting pitchers this season. He seems to alternate between each of these lists on a week to week basis. This week the fact that Latos takes the hill twice is a positive. Also neither of the opponents he is facing is all that imposing, but more importantly his last 2 starts, especially his last start against the Indians, Latos began to look more and more like the pitcher we got used to seeing in San Diego. He pitched 7 innings, struck out 7, allowed 8 base runners (only 1 of those as a walk) and gave up 2 earned runs. You don’t want to leave Latos on your bench if he repeats that outing in his two starts this week. Based on where you drafted him and the damage he probably has already done, he needs to be in your starting lineup.
Wade Miley – vs. Seattle and vs. Chicago Cubs. Miley had another dominating performance on Wednesday, but between Matt Cain and RA Dickey Miley went slightly unnoticed. He has bordered on dominating this season with a 2.39 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. The one thing Miley does not have going for him is strikeouts, as he only has 49 in 75 innings, but what has helped aide his surprise performance is his lack of walks (he is on pace to only issue 43). In fact he had probably his best performance all season against perhaps his toughest opponent on Wednesday against the Rangers striking out 8 batters, giving up 3 hits and only allowing 1 run in 7.2 innings. The fact that Miley has kept his performance up for two months allows me to feel comfortable inserting him into my lineup.
Five That Must be Debated Based on Your Situation:
Mark Buerhle – @ Boston and vs. Toronto. It seems that Buerhle appears on this list every week that he has two starts. He is just a solid starter that pitches deep into games, limits base runners (13 walks so far this season) and gives his team a chance to win. He has lost each of last three starts, but in the last two he pitched 6 and 7 innings respectively only giving up 2 runs in each start. Buerhle will not over power hitters or have too many dominating outings, but he is just a solid pitcher than could provide some ratio assistance and, barring run support, earn some wins.
Aaron Harang – @ Oakland and @ Los Angeles Angels. Harang starts his week against a weak hitting team in an extreme pitchers park and ends it facing a dangerous lineup. The Dodgers have been winning and providing the run support that makes a pitcher like Harang even that much more valuable. He is essentially a less reliable version of Buerhle, but with strikeout potential. The only problem is the amount of base runners he gives up and his WHIP of 1.37. Starting Harang means taking a bit of a chance, but there are a lot worse chances to take, especially on a week when he takes the hill twice.
Scott Diamond – @ Pittsburgh and @ Cincinnati. The main difference between Diamond and Miley is that Miley has been doing it all year and Diamond will be making his 8th start of the season against Pittsburgh, though he has registered quality starts in 6 of those 7 starts. Diamond is a ground ball pitcher who limits walks – 6 over 50.2 innings so far this season. This helps him keep his ERA of 2.13 at the level it is. Also, his control allows Diamond to limit the damage and allows some room for a regression that would not be entirely disastrous. There is more risk here than his stats would suggest, but it is very possible that he would be one of your best 9 options this week.
Derek Lowe – vs. Cincinnati and @ Houston. Lowe is something that both Miley and Diamond can aspire to be. Lowe started the season off like he had discovered his All-Star form but has started to come back down to earth. Coming off a 7 run performance in Detroit he did register a quality start in his next outing but he did lose the game and issued 7 walks. He also has a recent 8 run performance against the White Sox. His lack of strikeouts, propensity for imploding and recent track record would worry me. Lowe is not someone that I would seek out, and you must be aware of the risk before using him.
Three for Thought:
Jake Arrieta – @ New York Mets and vs. Washington. Arrieta clearly has talent, his issue has just been putting everything together. Prior to his time in the bullpen Arrieta was bordering on brutal as he lost 6 straight decisions. But even in that stretch he did have a 7 inning, 1 run and 9 strikeout performance against the Nationals. Between that and his most recent and nearly identical start, this time against the Pirates, Arrieta baited fantasy owners hoping for a smart pickup for this week. Having the talent is half the battle, but putting it together is the hard part. If you are not dealing from a position of strength either in the standings or with your lineup, I would see if you can capitalize on Arrieta’s talent.
Jonathan Sanchez – @ Houston and vs. St. Louis. Sanchez did not have a great start to the season as he was, even for his standards, erratic both with his control and in general. Again, the talent is there along with the strikeout potential, but this year he has yet to figure it out as he has 24 walks and 22 strikeouts. He has not pitched deep into games, going at most 5 innings. I would wait on Sanchez to see when he settles down this season. Having Sanchez, with his propensity for disaster, in your lineup for two starts this week could spell bad news for your ratios.
J.A. Happ – vs. Kansas City and vs. Cleveland. This is an indication of the lack of strength in this week’s candidates. Happ has just been brutal in his last two starts seeing his ERA rise by almost a run. In the prior outings Happ flashed his potential with 3 quality starts. Based on his early season performance, it is possible tha,t especially in deep leagues, Happ is on a roster. The temptation is always there to go back to someone like Happ on a week where they have two starts against mediocre opponents. He is averaging over a strikeout an inning, but his ERA of 5.37 and WHIP 1.60 are scary. If you can stomach that risk and are in need of a starter and some strikeouts then this might be worth a roll of the dice. However do not expect him to receive a lot of run support, which could play a factor in your decision.